The Friends of California Libre...

14 December 2003

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Beat 'Em Harder

Greetings, friends,
First of all, my apologies to my aunt Nona and Dana...they did NOT send me a cartoon of "Venereal Disease Covers the Earth" as I stated last time...that was strictly my doing. I'm enclosing a photo they sent me THIS time (along with another photo from Ms. Corinne Rusch's recent show in Zurich, for those who are interested. Looks like fun! Friends of Ms. Rusch will recognize her trademark D&G shades on the table, and check out those sleek Swiss vases!)

Read deep into this screed, as it has some political goodies, several weird websites, and some current happenings. Just in case you're wondering what I think of the G catching Saddam Hussein, you might be surprised at my response: WHO CARES. He was found the way every two-bit murderous dictator deserves to be, alone in a hole with a scraggly beard and a pistol. I hope the Iraqis have a good time with him. But he hasn't been in charge for months now...that's our job. Now that Saddam's caught, does that mean we go back to looking for Osama bin Laden, or does our own beady-eyed smirking leader get to gloat for a few months first? By then the whole country'll be broke.

If you have any interest in the growing power of the Internet and how it could change our lives here (in California) there is a taskforce to connect every home in the state to fiber (i.e. broadband) by 2010. Click on "Taskforces" if you want to participate; open to all as far as I can tell. Read:

The first city in the world to achieve 100% broadband connectivity is, oddly enough (or not so odd, maybe) the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. Read on:

Onto the screed, shortened this time as I suffer from a sudden, violent cold. On the issue of denying reconstruction contracts in Iraq to countries that opposed the war (i.e. Russia, France and Germany), I'd like to point out that Iraq already owes these countries 10 TIMES more than all the contracts put together. So why would the Pentagon deny these countries contracts at exactly the time that the State Department is trying to negotiate a reduction in Iraqi debt from the same countries? It boggles the mind. It can't be a mistake; it's too stupid.
A Deliberate Debacle
By Paul Krugman
New York Times
James Baker sets off to negotiate Iraqi debt forgiveness with our estranged allies. And at that very moment the deputy secretary of defense releases a "Determination and Findings" on reconstruction contracts that not only excludes those allies from bidding, but does so with highly offensive language. What's going on?

There are many other articles on this subject:
Wednesday, December 10, 2003 (AP)
Former U.S. officials, analysts blast Bush administration over new rift with Europe
BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Antiwar Nations Barred From Bids
By Paul Richter
Los Angeles Times
** EC to review U.S. policy on Iraq **
Amid rising criticism of the U.S. decision to bar opponents of the war in Iraq from reconstruction contracts, the European Commission said Wednesday that it would examine whether the policy violated World Trade Organization rules.
Iraq Bids Ban Reopens Diplomatic Rift
By The Associated Press
Try this EUobserver link:
Bidding for Isolation
Opinion of The New York Times

The English are able to step back and have a laugh about all this:
Weapons Inspector Haunts Bush in British Satire

Though the Germans might have something else on their minds:
Almost Half of Germans Cheat on Partner - Survey

Meanwhile, the Russians are playing games with the planet in order to win concessions from the Europeans, undoubtedly. Our own government has chosen the course of self-destruction:
Kyoto Protocol in Peril
The New York Times Editorial
The Politics of Global Warming: Is it Nyet or Not on Kyoto Accord?
By Peter N. Spotts
The Christian Science Monitor
Melting Ice 'Will Swamp Capitals'
By Geoffrey Lean
Independent UK
Global Warming Kills 150,000 People a Year, Warns UN
By Terry Kirby
Independent UK

And if you're wanting to visit the US (this is just visit now--not study or work, just to cross the border) you'll get a new surprise after 31 December; you get photographed and fingerprinted:
> Department of Homeland Security recently announced details of the US-VISIT
> program, which, according to a DHS Q&A, will "record
> the entry and exit of non-US citizens into and out
> of the United States, and provide officials with
> information about persons who are in the United
> States in violation of the terms of their admission
> to the United States." The program is due to begin
> December 31, 2003.
> A DHS fact sheet on the US VISIT program can be
> found at the DHS website:
> The program includes collecting digital fingerprints
> of the index fingers of arriving and departing
> international visitors, and the taking of a digital
> photograph.

Perhaps all we need are some good feelings?
'Twin Peaks' Director David Lynch Urges $1 Billion for Meditation Training

If so, this is hardly the way to go about it; talk about Scrooge!
South Africa Pulls Plug on Santa Claus Mail

And this is the meanest thing about Europe I've seen in awhile (thanks, Geri). Enjoy!

That aside, the Europeans are working right now to unify themselves (even as this country falls apart):
Seeking to make Europe one
By William Pfaff

Some say they could do it better, if they ask the citizens instead of a huge bureaucracy:

Otherwise the process might fail:

Some countries are turning to the right:
Swiss neutrality looking like retreat
By Alan Cowell/NYT

Others are returning to the status of world nations, like Poland, for the first time in centuries:,7369,1103503,00.html
New boy Poland flexes its muscles
As the EU struggles with its constitution and declining public confidence, one future member is adding to French and German woes
Ian Traynor in Warsaw
Tuesday December 09 2003
The Guardian
From the war zones of Iraq to the diplomatic battlefields of Brussels, one country is rapidly gaining a reputation for being the new bad boy on the European bloc.

But the signs of progress are everywhere:
** Blair and Chirac defend EU force **
Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac back plans for Europe to have its own military capability at the Anglo-French summit.
< >
Britain sees defense as a way back to Europe
By Ilana BetEl
News Analysis: At NATO, allies try a return to diplomacy
By Elaine Sciolino/NYT

The Europeans even plan to challenge American hegemony in outer space, such at the network of GPS satellites operated by the US military:,12271,1102165,00.html

In the meantime, our government continues to cut us off from our friends and enemies alike:
American Unilateralism Alienates Allies, Isolates Us
By Walter Cronkite
Knight Ridder

They cut us off from our oldest neighbors:
U.S. and Canada: a deepening chasm
By Clifford Krauss/NYT

Democracies that we’ve fostered for decades are suddenly alone in the world:
U.S. policy change now favors China
By David E. Sanger

It seems that they learn nothing from the mistakes of the past:
Revisiting Cold War Coups and Finding Them Costly
By Stephen Kinzer
New York Times

Okay, so much for my political screed this weekend. Now then, what's up with this crap..."Furniture Porn"??? (Thanks, I think, Miles):
Check out these HOT lounge chairs do anything but lounge! Better get that
garden hose!"

And finally, a slightly deranged young woman who's figured out how to beat Napster and make money as a musician (you will need to click around this site to discover why; thanks, Geri.) Check out her poetry; it will make you long for world peace:

Vive le Screed!

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